1. Slice it and dice it any way you want, this piece has a pro nuclear stance. I love listening to the last words!

    Now, Moniz and Vogtle’s chief engineer get it. This Vogtle plant is the future of nuclear in the US. Build it on time, on target and within reasonable costs and knowing that economies of scale are lying ahead, and you’ve got it made.

    This thing about nuclear being linked to solving world hunger by providing caviar comes from Bradford, from the Vermont School of Economics. Just remember this.

    Rod has made us go thru some pro nuclear one liners from time to time with great fun but it would be nice to have a thread or two for anti solar, anti gas and anti wind one liners. A poem could even do it.

    Imagine what we could come up with given the raw talent that we have.

  2. As for Dr J, you have to admire the way he plugs the world ‘ultimately’ 3 times in the same sentence.

    He’s got style.

  3. The harm he’s done to two nations and the reputation and fate of an entire industry goes unmentioned and instead is a hero media darling! Must be a way to let the masses outside the web to know about buried truths like this! Good shot!

  4. There is something especially diabolical, exceptionally cynical and even sinister about how such an important position, supposedly held in public trust to further the public interest, is hijacked by special interests so as to sabotage an entire industry from the inside. This is corruption and a betrayal of the public trust, the depth of which is difficult for me to fully comprehend. After looking at what Wall St. and “too big to fail” has wrought in recent years, and what Bush / Cheney did to sell a WAR in the middle east on false pretences (WMD anyone?), I suppose this is just par for the course in America where government has been captured to serve private interests. I think FDR once referred to that as the essence of Fascism.

    Big Money did very well during WWII, but then FDR prosecuted some Big Money using the Trading with the Enemy Act and marginal tax rates on the super-rich hit 91% in the post-war period under Eisenhower. Sovereignty of the People has been under assault ever since, IMHO, a trend that has reached new lows in our time. People were chumps to swallow the line that Government is the problem, when Government under the Constitution is supposed to be an expression of a free people, THEIR GOVERNMENT. Economic Royalists want you to believe this BS so they can kill YOUR government, so that it cannot interfere with THEIR interests, and turn it into THEIR government so it can actively promote their interests instead. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the relative prosperity of the middle class has done nothing but shrink at the same time, especially over the past 20 years. They have been winning for decades.

    I believe this Jaczko deal is just one more manifestation of this overall disease: private power hijacking the system meant to serve the Public Interest. I see a regulator committed to killing nuclear energy as a nefarious force serving the interests of Big Oil, Big Money and the Military-Industrial Complex. No one could benefit more form cheap abundant energy than the average citizen. No one could benefit more from emissions-free energy than your average citizen, their children and grand-children.

    If you guys don’t fix this, it will fall upon the Chinese to figure out how to mass produce next-gen atomic energy systems to sustainably deliver almost limitless energy at low cost in order to grow an economy of over 1 BILLION people. That won’t be good for National Security over the long term…

    1. SteveFost lays it out on the table and the result is silence. What he said is absolutely true but a lot of folks even here prefer to ignore it.

      1. In truth, he’s saying things many here (including myself) have also said, and I for one felt no need to comment on it.

      2. I agree with Steve’s comment, and if there was a ‘like’ button, I would have pressed it. I have nothing to add or discuss with Steve, which left me the option of only writing a comment with something like “Great comment!” which would be fine I guess, but on the other hand, the density of great commentary (IMO) on this blog is relatively high so if I should get used to applauding good comments, chances are that it would get tiresome for others to see my applause all the time…

    2. I couldn’t agree with you more…I too believe the government has been hijacked by special interests. Politicians are too easily bought and the revolving door is far to lucrative in and around the D.C. beltway.

      As much as I’d like to see the USA lead the inevitable resurgence of nuclear power as a means to solve global energy demands over the next 50 years, the truth is that there are extremely powerful special interests that will prevent this from happening. Big Oil runs our country’s foreign policy. The military industrial surveillance complex feeds off of systemic risks associated with our foreign oil supply sources/routes. It’s a highly lucrative and virtuous system; one that I’m pretty certain will defeat any form of democratic resistance. The fact remains…the American voter has been pretty complacent for far too long. Given the massive amount of money in our politics and systematic efforts to reduce voter rolls and/or gerrymander, democratic processes are only getting weaker.

      IMHO, it will be China that leads a 4th gen nuclear resurgence. Rather sad considering how much of a technological lead the USA has willfully squandered. China has the strategic need for these technologies and the capital, infrastructure and human resources necessary to effectively pursue nuclear power. It won’t be long before the effects of this mobilization bear fruit.

      Having worked 15 years for a large multi-national, running its global supply chain, I would be surprised if China did not lead this resurgence, especially when considering the powers lined up against a US based technological/commercial effort.

      1. I think there’s a scenario where we do get the nuclear renaissance in the USA:

        1.  Either a drop in NG supply, or a surge in demand, bring prices close to world levels and make gas-fired generation far more expensive than at today’s fire-sale prices.  (Both of these are in the cards, just a matter of timing.)
        2.  Regulation and/or popular resistance to coal prevents a return to it.
        3.  Continued resistance to fracking blocks a surge in shale gas production.

        There are also wildcards, like proposals to use small reactors to e.g. supply steam for SAGD in Alberta’s oil sands and free up NG for more lucrative purposes.  The LEADIR in particular fascinates me.  A small, atmospheric-pressure, meltdown-proof source of relatively high-temperature steam could be used as a drop-in replacement for at least some coal furnaces and de-carbonize them.

  5. Dr. Jaczko—and Dr. Macfarlane, also—are examples of people with very specific nuclear experience making their way into the highest offices of the NRC. They’re both bright, able, people, sure, but having someone at the top of the NRC who is not a nuclear engineer and who has limited industry experience at best to me is like putting a veterinarian in as the CEO of a major hospital corporation. Sure, he would have a wealth of broad medical knowledge, but not much that is germane to the lion’s share of the work he will undertake. Also, the only way for Jaczko to stay in the spotlight now is to say the type of things he is saying: it’s a tactic to remain visible as much as anything. He’s what, like 45 at the most? Surely he’s not done with political/govt ambitions just yet.

    1. If Dr J and Mac F were put in charge of an hospital, they would cut budgets and close radiation therapy, radio oncology, use of TC 99 for diagnostic and curie therapy.

      Wonderfull tools, but not on their watch.

    2. Mike I think the person you are thinking of the hospital would be the Medical Director who in most states would have to be a medical doctor. The CEO usually has an MBA and a financial background and reports to the Board of Directors, most of whom are not physicians. In your case a veterinarian wouldn’t be so bad, they would at least have science background. But I know what you mean in that the FDA should have a physician, the FAA should have people who know about aviation. I sounds like what we have with the NRC is the way in some areas, they have a coroner, but the coroner is usally a funeral director and not a doctor. In areas where they have a Medical Examiner, that person must be an MD and so, these positions in the NRC should be like that.

      1. Actually, while I didn’t expand upon the concept as I perhaps should have here, I do in my own blog on this same very topic:


        I didn’t make two things clear here: 1) I was speaking from experience and 2) I was actually thinking of a vice president of an entire academic medical center within the framework of a larger university (the president would be the highest official over the entire university). I actually posted this comment quickly prior to writing my own blog post referenced above, but should have detailed my trajectory more here, as I did there. You’re fully correct in your statements, but my overall thesis is also correct: Do you wish to appoint someone in the highest of leadership who has experience (however good that may be) in something related to the field being lead but who doesn’t have comprehensive understanding of the entire depth and scope of what’s covered?

        1. I agree with you and want to comment some more.

          As long as oversimplification and making false promises are tried and tested ways of being the darling of voters and shareholders alike, those who actually know what they are talking about will keep losing popularity contests and fail to achieve positions of power. The director of one of the first (technical consultancy) companies I worked for actually told me right off the bat when I joined that being an expert was often a handicap to advancement in the consultancy sector, since experts are less likely to score large consultancy contracts then amateurs. That is because an expert is more likely to offer an effective and quick (and therefore low-revenue) consultancy service when asked by a client to solve a particular problem than an amateur, who – because he doesn’t fully understand the subject matter himself – is more likely to convince a client that solving the client’s problem problem requires a ‘large effort involving many people and lots of time to study and assess the problem’. The CEO of that company was actually fond of telling us that he had little or no technical understanding himself, and he kept reminding us that being an effective (i.e. lucrative) consultant involved ‘perception management’ much more than ‘mere’ technical competence, which he assumed was present enough in all of us already anyway, because we were such a well known and respected company. I guess there is some truth in what this CEO was getting at, but it also entails risk, i.e. the risk that technically incompetent but commercially smart (or sly) people drift to the top while technical experts drift to the background, with ultimately negative effects for the quality of service.

          From another angle, there is a currently popular mantra in my country that “discussion is impossible without doubt”. In other words, anyone who does not doubt himself is called unsuitable to take part in a discussion. This is supposed to imply that effective discussion is only possible if people are willing to accept that their opinion is doubtful and should always be open to criticism. While on the face of it this is true, the thing is that when discussing important, complex issues it would seem beneficial to have people present who do *not* doubt their own opinion, if only because they have spent years in researching their opinion to the point where ‘doubt’ has been all but eliminated. Conversely, if doubting one’s own opinion is a prerequisite of being part of a discussion, then doesn’t this mean that any random person can take part and be influential and beneficial to that discussion? Is that true though?

          Why should we not instead agree that a good discussion relies on each (or at least many) of the participants having spent the time to research his/her opinion in order to remove most – if not all – doubt? Is there no difference between having some residual doubt about one’s informed opinion, versus simply having no understanding at all of what one professes to have an opinion about?

          The difference is important IMO, but I think it is mostly lost on the people who proclaim that “discussion is impossible without doubt”. The result is that people are prompted to protest whenever an expert presents his opinion and notes that it is scientifically unequivocal. They are prompted by such a pronouncement to criticize the expert for ‘not doubting his own opinion’. In my opinion, for what it’s worth, simply stating that ‘doubt’ is crucial to any discussion is likely to muddle the question of competence versus amateurism, and it therefore runs the risk of degrading the role of experts while promoting the role of amateurs.

          Anyway, sorry if this is off-topic or irrelevant.

  6. I hardly see how wind would be cheaper than was expected in 2005.

    As past NREL studies show, the price has been rising until 2009 http://www.stanford.edu/~jwanders/Papers/Anderson_JMP.pdf due to the pressure in new deployments, it then has started to go down again but hardly that much http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/2011_wind_technologies_market_report.pdf

    This other reports claims that the cost was only $1,300 in 2004 http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/climatism-watching-climate-science/2013/jun/7/offshore-wind-enormously-expensive-energy-alternat/ , which means that even a little down from the heights at $2,100, the cost is still much higher than could have been expected back in 2004.

    No, congratulation you pro-wind people, if you even convinced Rod with your discourse of cheap wind, then your rhetoric is amazingly effective.

    1. For what it’s worth, I think Rod was merely noting (correctly) that unbuffered and nonbacked-up wind can and does ‘compete’ with nuclear energy. I say ‘compete’ because wind can only ‘compete’ while the wind blows. On a level playing field, wind energy must be buffered and or backed-up to the extent and in a way that it reaches the same level of dispatchability and co2 emissions performance that nuclear power has. To do that will require at least a backup plant fed with sustainable biomass or a natural gas plant fitted with full CCS + residual carbon emissions compensation for the wind energy, which is an utterly uncompetitive proposition.

  7. One interesting twist.

    In the last 2 CNN reports, the 2 different journalists made it a point to state ‘Dr J has no kowledge or competence in the field of nuclear energy even though he served as NRC Chairman’

    Really ?

  8. One question to the board:

    Could Japan have asked the NRC’s help in the cleanup and decom of Fukushima or were they limited to ask the DOE ?

    1. Maybe a deeper question as considered by Conca on Forbes is whether the U.S. is liable to pony up for Fukushima relocation compensation because Jackzo “expertly” urged Japan to evacuate the region.

  9. Anything new on how MacFarlane has been doing?

    I have not been convinced that she is as bad for the NRC and for America as some people have been making her out to be. What has she done that would mark her as (another) political plant with instructions to kill nuclear energy at all costs, like her predecessor did so diligently?

    1. @ Joris,

      Follow the money.

      Budgets for COLs, reactor design approvals or anything that could get more nukes built today or in the foreseeable future are cut.

      No monies will be asked for Yucca.

    2. Macfarlane has seemed, in her own words, at best neutral towards nuclear energy. She may not be against it, per se, but she’s not exactly fully for it. Read this interview Rod did with her some time ago, before she was chair:


      Something I find very disturbing in this interview is that Dr. Macfarlane declares herself an “agnostic” regarding nuclear power. She more or less paints herself, in her own words, as indifferent to nuclear and not being either for or against it. Yet she heads the NRC. This is something I simply cannot understand: Would you appoint as Secretary of the Interior someone who had an indifferent view towards our national parks? Would you want a Secretary of Defense who was neither really pro-military nor anti-military? Yet at the NRC, this is the person we have, mainly, probably as a way to kowtow to those who claim that the NRC is a victim of regulatory capture. I’m sorry, but look, the chair of the NRC and everyone at the NRC should be 100% able and willing to recognize specific “bad” situations or plans or operations within the nuclear industry and in accord with their mission and extant law, act as required. However, everyone at the NRC I would hope would be pro-nuclear, would be people who believe in nuclear and are dedicated to ensuring that America’s nuclear industries are as safe and competitive as possible. That is the NRC’s stated mission. It is not a random court of opinion to mull over whether nuclear is a good choice for energy then to think about “clean” coal a while then . . . no: the NRC is to regulate an industry, to be sure, but it should—everyone at One White Flint should—firstly believe in that industry.

      1. Thanks for this comment and the link to the earlier article by Rod, which I’ve already seen.

        The impression I keep getting when looking at MacFarlane’s non-verbal communication in the video, as well as her choice of words is that she is probably aware of the political pressure that has come to surround the position of NRC-chairman, in addition to the age-old pressure from the anti-nukes and the pro-nukes. I get the feeling that even if she wanted to support nuclear as well as she can, in order to perform the NRC’s enabling mission, she would experience these various pressures as a mine field requiring careful navigation. This is not what the position of NRC chairman was ever supposed to be like, I expect, but for me it seems lthat evaluating MacFarlane’s actions should take into account the peculiar (and unwanted) position of the NRC and the NRC chairman during these complicated times.

        Just my two cents. I hope to see much more about MacFarlane’s activities going forward, and about the development of the NRC in general. The NRC is and will remain a very important institution, not only for nuclear power in the USA. There are big stakes with a lot of stakeholders.

    3. Reid is an ass, but he’s a sly ass. He hit the NRC with a one-two punch.

      Jackzo was a sexual bigot, and incompetent manager, and Reid’s minion.

      After Jackzo, having a competent, unbigoted anti-nuclear fanatic as chairman of the NRC doesn’t look so bad, to some people.

      Don’t fall for it. This is the “Good cop; bad cop” routine writ in the bureaucracy. A very clever man, that ass in the senate.

  10. Taking into account:

    the reliability of Georgia’s governor (lying about the cause of construction delays, lying about German firms being interested to come to Georgia because of much lower electricity prices)

    the subcontractors frauds with concrete not leveled according to signed contract standard, similar with the reinforcements; and especially the fact they came away with it (Quite wrongly, NRC allowed such cost saving fraud in the end).

    I expect significant more delays and cost overruns (to be paid by Georgia’s rate payers).

      1. And speaking of Germany hows that wind thing working out right now:

        GERMAN POWER: Prompt hits 5-week high as low wind sees gas return

        Wind power generation was forecast at to drop below 4 GW for Wednesday’s baseload hours, according to a source.

        Nuclear availability remains at its full 12.1 GW capacity, while coal plant availability for Wednesday was pegged at 15 GW, with lignite plants adding another 19.7 GW, giving Germany some 47 GW before more expensive gas-fired generation units were needed, EEX transparency data shows.( http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/london/german-power-prompt-hits-5-week-high-as-low-wind-21810192 )

        Kinda puts the “intermittent” back in intermittent. Thank god they still have 12 GW clean reliable energy.

      2. ZachF
        Germany’s much electricity consuming industry pays substantial less as they don’t have to pay the levy for the Energiewende (~4.6cent?) and get additional discounts.

        That is also the reason that:

        our aluminum smelter (which pays ~10cent) cannot compete against the German smelters; and

        the EU does a competition forgery (not sure whether this is the right English word) investigation regarding those prices. Taken into account Angela’s saying I doubt whether that will deliver anything substantial.

        Reading my post back, while I have no doubt that the deviations implied lower costs for the subcontractor, I believe that words as ‘subcontractor fraud’ are over the top.

        1. None of this is surprising. In the Netherlands, the same thing is being planned: i.e. consumers will pay for the subsidies of the 50 billion euro windfarms that will be put up during the next ten years, while industry will pay nothing. Even the pseudo-green politicians are already complaining that the costs will fall on the consumers, but these are fake complaints. Since obviously, the cost for building windfarms (which is a stupid investment from the point of view of industry) will not be paid by industry, because otherwise industry would simply leave the country. hence, the recently unveiled energy policy will put the costs squarely onto the taxpayer.

          The pseudo-green politicians have been warned of this outcome over and over again for years, but they have been stubbornly deaf to it. Now they realize that they will have to explain to the voter why their energy bills are going to skyrocket while industry is going to be using most of the ‘green’ energy. Which is why the pseudo-greens are already now starting with their fake complaints intended to put the blame on industry and on the ruling political parties.

          All of what is happening today was crystal clear at least ten years ago when the pseudo-greens started seriously clamoring for massive ‘investment’ in costly, noisy, ugly, and intrusive birdslicers. Now, the pseudo-greens are trying to free themselves from the consequences of their obtuse and devious lobbying. Luckily, other Dutch politicians are not as stupid as the pseudo-greens seem to think, and they are carefull to remind the voter that it is the psuedo-greens who will take full responsibility for the costs. So there is every indication that the pseudo-greens will be routed and eliminated from the political scene sooner or later, as the costs of their windfarm boondoggle starts to bite consumers who are already highly stressed due to a collapsed housing market and spiraling health care costs. Hopefully, after the pseudo-greens have been shut down in a few years, rational energy policy can be made to protect the environment and our people.

          1. I’m sure the Southeast of the U.S. would be more than happy to accommodate any Dutch industries who desire to move their operations here.

        2. Bas, EVERY source has German industrial rates in the fifteen cent range. if certain industrial users get subsidies (lol) that doesn’t alter the cost, just who pays. You do have to laugh at German households subsidizing green energy with higher rate surcharges, and taxpayers subsidizing industry against it at the same time…

      3. ZachF,
        German price for high volume customers is roughly the whole-sale price + grid transportation costs. For high capacity connection ~1ct/KWh?

        This stimulates high volume industry to consume a lot during hours with low wholesale prices. Those are rather well predicted, you only have to look at the future market.

        So I can imagine that alu smelters try to smelt/consume as much as possible on summer days with negative whole-sale prices (down to -10ct/KWh!) and windy nights in the autumn (also negative prices). As at those times they earn more money the more electricity consumption!

        Looking at av. German whole sale prices and assuming only slightly more production during low price periods, I would say that they pay ~4ct/KWh (depending on their purchase flexibility).

        That fits also with Abb. 11 (page 17) in this paper, which states our Dutch electricity price (7ct/KWh). Combine that with statements in Dutch papers (and our aluminum smelter) that German price is at least ~40% lower.

        Other factors
        German electricity supply is far more reliable than in USA
        Germany: ~15min./a outage
        South Atlantic region in USA: ~320min/a outage (=5.5hrs)
        (Abb. 29 and 30 on page 34)
        The linked paper doesn’t state prices for volumes above 150Gh/a but states at page 20 (section 3.2) that there is a Wild Growth of exception rules for those. In next pages some are specified.
        At the top of page 29 you find some confirmation of my first sentence in this post.

        You can see the downward development av. German whole-sale prices since 2008 at page 28 (Abb.21 and Abb.22) of the linked document. That development will continue but less steep, as the futures for 2016 are ~€38/MWh.

        The cost-price of the new Vogtle plant will be ~$150/MWh. If they then sell for $50/MWh (not really cheaper), Georgia’s rate payers have to subsidize ~66%.
        But probably more as the whole-sale price trend is downwards while Vogtle costs are upwards, so in the end rate payers may subsidize 80%.

        This applies also for similar companies in USA. Just look at the whole sale prices in Pennsylvania (page 30, Abb.23) and the rest of USA in next diagrams. So attracting industry with Georgia’s new NPP is only possible if the rate payers subsidize ~70-80% of the electricity they consume!

        1. Do you just make up numbers out of thin air? 150/MWh for votgle? At that price the two new units would earn 3 BILLION per year (2.2GW @ 90% cf = 18 twh pa) and pay for itself twice over within a decade!

          1. See here how much profit EDF is doing on generation currently

            Such a bare bones reference to EDF profits and graph is highly misleading. EDF is one of this most heavily indebted companies in the EU (with debt in the past exceeding total capital). Their debt is very cheap in contrast to everyone else, primarily because they are 85% owned by the government. They very likely have no more than 50% of their future nuclear liabilities covered (waste management and decommissioning costs), which is the primary reason for recent rate increases in France (some of the largest seen more than a decade). EDF is also a smaller company than in the past (due to asset sales, and recent efforts to improve it’s balance sheet).

            Some credit other factors (besides nuclear) to recent profit growth.


  11. Renewables are the way to distribute all the blame for bad policy on pollution and energy to the people as opposed to letting it fall on big energy.

    What could have been an effective low end approach to energy independence for some on a effective scale was co-opted as a PR campaign by the anti nukes and fossil energy and is being applied in ways that do more harm than good.

    Ignorance, corruption and incompetence for the people!

      1. it was around 90 percent before the PR shutdowns. Even during them I doubt it went as low as Germany’s solar (around 9 percent CF their wind is around 18 percent). Im sure it back up there now. Up through July Germany is only using one tenth of one percent less nuclear power this year. If these trends continue and Germany winds up using more nuclear power this year Bas is never going to hear the end of it (from me at least). I guess me ranting on to him about it is a given anyway as they are even burning more combustible fuels this year than last ( http://www.iea.org/stats/surveys/mes.pdf )

  12. I love the way CNN edited that to highlight the “talking point” approach of the anti-nukes. Hopefully neutral viewers will see that they are being subjected to a coordinated campaign of propaganda and react negatively.

    1. Re: Joffan says:
      I love the way CNN edited that to highlight the “talking point” approach of the anti-nukes. Hopefully neutral viewers will see that they are being subjected to a coordinated campaign of propaganda and react negatively.”

      Unfortunately with observed regrettable cynicism, I fear the general public just isn’t that sharp or they wouldn’t be so susceptible to anti-nuke rants and the industry in the bad PR and pol shape it’s in now. 🙁

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

  13. Rod, you have done it again. Keep telling it like it is. Listening to Jaczko concerning nuclear energy is like listening to Al Qaida about America.

  14. It’s not that I disagree with him on many points, but it’s just too rich coming from a person whose only concern was his “credibility” when he realized on March 16, 2011 that the spent fuel pool of Unit 4 at Fukushima I NPP was not “dry” (and probably had never been “dry”) as he had just declared in Congress that morning that it was “dry”. All he cared about was to cover his behind. I just got sick reading the transcript of the NRC teleconference on that day. NRC didn’t admit it had erred until three months later.

    FOIA transcript, for those interested (PDF):

    By the way, this meme unleashed by Chairman Jacko in March 2011 is making the rounds again both in the US and Japan deliberately by a handful of bloggers, scaring people that “NRC said the pool was empty! and TEPCO is about remove fuel “rods” from the Unit 4 pool! The world is ending!”

    Something like that.

    Feeling more hopeless for the humanity.

  15. CNN is on to Dr J.

    The last 2 times he appeared on TV, they made a duty to remind everyone that he was not knowledgeable on anything nuclear and that he was a nomination of Reid’s.

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